Married Life In Times of Crisis: When your spouse has a different faith
The Prophet Amos asked, “How can two walk together unless they agree?” (Amos 3:3) The obvious answer is, they cannot. Conflict in marriage is inevitable, so the ability to resolve conflict in a way that produces agreement between husband and wife is critical to the success of the marriage. When a couple takes time to review where they’ve come from, where they are, and come to an agreement on any conflict, they are able to make tremendous strides in their relationship and in life. This week’s message was on how couples live together peacefully when you don’t share the same faith. The Biblical truth in today’s message will give you the tools you need to do your part in living in peace.
Something To Talk About:
- Same faith, different background: Our love for Jesus is what unites Christians around the world as one church. A shared love for Jesus breaks down the wall of hostility between people who would disagree in any other setting — Republicans and Democrats, Florida State and Florida fans, Coke people and Pepsi people and married people. At the time Ephesians was written, the great divide was between Jews and non-Jews, or Gentiles. But the message remains the same: In the Church, we all root for the same team, because we’ve all received the same grace. Faith in Jesus is the great equalizer. “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” (Ephesians 2:18). When we stop seeing other Christians as “us vs. them”, we experience the Church the way Jesus intended. Like fans of the same team, we celebrate together and mourn together. We share the faith struggles that come with not seeing God’s promises immediately fulfilled. We encourage each other with verses from the Bible and stories of God’s past faithfulness and answered prayers. And as we love each other this way, we are being “made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22).
- Same faith, different tracks: Here both are believers, but on a different track. One spouse may be growing in their faith while the other is not. One may be more mature than the other. It can put a wedge between what is otherwise a very good marriage. God can and will work in each life even though they are on different tracks. As if it isn’t already hard enough to find a suitable spouse, this expectation that the person is more spiritually mature than the woman just makes the pool of marriable men even less. There are many cases where the spouse, too, can encourage his or her partner in his faith, and because of your faith, they may be encouraged in his faith and spend more time reading God’s Word or praying.
- Different faith, supportive spirit: You don’t have the same faith but you are supportive. There is no spiritual connection. In Proverbs 31 we find a very different sort of husband and wife. They complement each other perfectly because they share a spiritual depth. The wife’s influence is so powerful that her husband and family can’t help but praise her (verse 28). The husband is equally worthy of admiration: “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land” (verse 23). He meets with the leaders to give advice and help people solve their problems. His wife also provides wise instruction and is faithful in all the roles and responsibilities God has given her: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (verse 26) What a terrific example this ancient couple is for modern-day marriages. Because of their godliness and earnest commitment to God and to each other, their love is amplified. A holy couple, joined in marriage, studying God’s Word together, can slowly become a spiritual force in a world that desperately needs spiritually strong people. But you can’t have this type of spiritual connection if you have different faiths.
- Different faith, hostile spirit: Here you have two separate faiths and you can’t talk about it due to the hostility. This is double trouble. There is no spiritual commendation and there is animosity.
- Where would you like to see your marriage go this year? Do you expect your marriage to get better by doing the same things you did last year?
- If you had to define “marriage,” what words would you use? What makes marriage unique and different from any other human relationship?
- How would you describe your “long view” of your relationship? Where do you see yourselves in five years? Ten years? Twenty?
- When you run into obstacles, road-blocks, or conflicts in your marriage, what’s your “default” reaction?
- Do you see lifelong commitment based on your spiritual connection?
- Can you have a “Christ-centered” marriage with a person of another faith?
- Would you say that your relationship is solidly grounded on the foundation of your faith in Jesus Christ? Why or why not?
- What are some practical ways you can acknowledge God’s authority in your home? How does the belief that He is present shape your interactions with one another?
- What do you do in a relationship with a person of another faith?
- As a couple, do you have a conscious strategy or game plan for resolving your differences? If not, have you ever stopped to analyze the way you handle conflict? Do you simply “get by” on “knee-jerk reactions”?
- How are you both different? How have your differences shaped and impacted your relationship ¬– whether for better or for worse?
- Share with your group any changes you want to make as a result of hearing this sermon?
Take one thing home with you:
Your actions to a spouse of a different faith demonstrate your faith. Your life can be the most compelling evidence for Christianity. The most powerful “sermons” come through actions and not just words. You are probably not going to talk your husband/wife into becoming a Christian, but your actions can make your faith seem so attractive that he/she might become interested. Even if they never accept Christ, your home is still going to have more peace and joy if you’re living out a Christian example of love and grace.